Most of what needs to have been said and written about this season is already out there – amazing is the first word that springs to mind! I write this in the week after our defeat at Chelsea, which was as difficult to accept as it was pleasing to see David Moyes make his European priorities clear by fielding an alternative first eleven.
My first – possibly uncharitable – thought was whether it could have been an even better season had he made the same sort of line up changes in games against the likes of Brentford and Burnley. What it showed was that even with our ‘B’ team out, such is Moyes’ organisational ability, that we came away from a tricky old game well worthy of a point.
How we managed to see a penalty saved and Dawson sent off in the last half a dozen minutes and lose the game was as sad as it gets but very West Ham of course. Moyes deserves total credit and admiration for this term in which we have beaten so many decent sides and knocked Sevilla – six times Europa League winners – out of the competition on a thunderous London Stadium night before brushing aside Lyon on their own manor.
And that brings us to one of the most emotional moments ever with Ukrainian Andriy Yarmolenko – having scored against Aston Villa on his return to action following the Russian invasion of his country, doing the same against the Spaniards. There won’t have been many who didn’t shed a tear. Stunning stuff.
The long shadow of Declan and his future hangs over us but it has done nothing to dampen what he has done on the pitch where he has claimed seven, eight or nine ratings in every game. He is one player whose regular kissing of the badge can be believed.
Jarrod Bowen has shown himself to be one of our best signings in years and Craig Dawson has been incredible and my personal Hammer of the Year given the numerous problems at central defence with injuries and his brilliant performances – despite Chelsea away!
And another guy who gets the most honourable of mentions is Ben Johnson who has developed into a fabulously versatile player having performed at right and left back, central defence and left wing back. That we have seen two great young players emerge from the academy also means a belated well done must be handed to former director Terry Westley.
It’s been a fine season and we look for even better from here on in.